Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah: "Look to past for answer to Ogden's future transit needs, says streetcar proponent
By Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune

OGDEN - By going back to its roots, Ogden could catch the wave of the future, a national transit expert told a group of 50 residents Monday night.
Jeffrey Boothe, a lobbyist and transit consultant in Washington, D.C., said cities of all sizes are jumping on streetcars as the hot, albeit old, mass transit choice. "


While it is great that Ogden is looking at a streetcar line instead of the gondola, there are several questions that I have.

The first one is the cost of the streetcar. Why is it going to cost $100 million to build a streetcar line? The cost should be 30-40 million range and that is going by Portland. So are the numbers being fudged in order to make buses look better or the gondola?

The other question is operating cost. Notice that they only included total operating cost? Why not compare cost per passenger mile? That would make the streetcar look too good? After all UTA has one of the most expensive bus companies in the country on a cost per passenger mile basis while TRAX is one of the lowest in the country. In addition the cost for TRAX is about 10 to 15% per passenger mile as a bus. However the bus could improve if UTA provided decent enough bus service to attract more riders.

A streetcar from the transit center to WSU would make a lot of sense. It is a very busy corridor and would be the perfect tool to revive Ogden's downtown area. The gondola will do little to boost economic development along the line since it would be in the air.

Lets hope Ogden can get momentum going and get the streetcar up and running.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My Proposed Restructuring of UTA Routes-Route 4

This continues my proposal for a revamped UTA bus network that will bring efficiency yet be more customer friendly.

While the first 3 routes where not that different from current routes, the next set of routes will show some radical changes to the system.

Route 4:

Route 4 will start at the Salt Lake International Airport

Then will run via Bangater Highway, 500 South/400 South/500 South, 1300 East, South Campus Drive, Business Loop, South Campus Drive, Wasatch Drive, Foothill Drive, Wakara, Komas, Arapeen, Sunnyside, Foothill Drive, I-215, and Wasatch Blvd to the Wasatch Blvd Transit Center. (I will discuss the transit centers in a future entry so keep reading!). The via Wasatch Blvd, 6200 South and 3000 East to the Transit Center at Cottonwood Corporate. The via Little Cottonwood Canyon, 7000 South, Wasatch Drive, Bengal Blvd, 3500 East, Wasatch Blvd, Kings Drive, Aspen Way, Wasatch Blvd, 1700 East/12600 South to the Draper Transit Center (Future TRAX Station).

Replaces Portions of Routes: 34 and 14.

Service Frequency: Monday Through Saturday: 30-Minute Sunday: 60-Minute
Route will also provide alternating 15-minute service from downtown to Foothill and 2100 East in conjunction with Route 5.

Buses: 30-Foot buses until ridership justifies 35-foot buses.

Advantages of route: Gives direct service from airport to the U of U and east bench areas. Direct bus service from the southern valley to the U of U, downtown and the airport.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah: "Update: Funding deal reached to help steer trains away from west side
By Heather May
The Salt Lake Tribune

A deal has been struck that may lead to the removal of Union Pacific freight trains from west-side neighborhoods in Salt Lake City. "

Thursday, January 26, 2006

deseretnews.com | Utah Valley explores departure from UTA

deseretnews.com | Utah Valley explores departure from UTA

I mentioned in my post Time to Split Up UTA? that it was time to look at splitting up the UTA because it controls too much area and UTA is disconnected from its riders in Salt Lake County much less in the other counties that it services.

It looks like Utah County is looking at the possibility of having its own bus system and more importantly are starting to look at light rail. While commuter rail would still serve a purpose, light rail is going to do more to help people traveling within Utah County especially better than a BRT scheme.

Also to see how bad local bus service currently is, here is comments from one blogger on his attempts to get from home to work in Utah County: Utah County exploring transit options

Pretty much goes with what I have been saying about UTA being too disconnected from its system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Proposed Restructuring of UTA Routes-Route 3

Someone asked me about maps, sorry I don't have those capabalities at the moment but I will work on it.

Ok here is the propsoed Route 3.

You combine today's Route 3 with Route 50 and you have the new Route 3.

Service Frequency: Monday-Friday 30-minutes, Saturday 30-minutes, Sunday 60-minutes

Buses: 35-Foot Buses

deseretnews.com | Making your drive HOTer

deseretnews.com | Making your drive HOTer: "Making your drive HOTer
Deseret Morning News editorial
You may think there is something elitist about the idea that motorists may someday soon be able to pay an extra toll in order to drive solo in the carpool lane along the Wasatch Front. Another perk for the rich, you say? A way to get the 'important' bigwigs to work on time while the rest of the masses choke in bumper-to-bumper traffic?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Proposed Restructuring of UTA Routes-Route 2

OK, I first showed you my line 1 proposal, now I will show you line 2. Yes, route 1 through 3 are pretty similiar today's routes with some improvements or replacement of other lines.

From Parleys And Foothill via Parleys, 2300 East, Foothill Blvd, Wastach Blvd, Medical Drive, and North Campus to the University of Utah Hospital. Then via North Campus, Virginia, South Temple, N/O Streets, 6th Avenue, E Street, 9th Avenue, B Street, 3rd/1st, State, 200 South, 300 West, 300 North, Clark, Oakley, 600 North, 1300 West, 1000 North, 1200 West, Riverview to 1900 North.

This route replace portions of routes 2, 5, 19, and 20.

Service Spans: 20-minute peak, 30-minute off peak, 30-minute Saturday, 60-minute Sunday.

Route should use 35-foot buses but will most likely have to use 30-foot buses due to Nimbyism.

Provides alternating 15-minute off peak service from Foothill/Wasatch to Virginia/South Temple with route 1 and alternating 10 minute service from LDS Hospital to downtown in congunction with routes 1 and 3.

deseretnews.com | UDOT expects Legacy work to start soon

deseretnews.com | UDOT expects Legacy work to start soon

Sunday, January 22, 2006

deseretnews.com | Transit ridership jumps

deseretnews.com | Transit ridership jumps

Here is some good news on the transit front. Transit ridership continues to go up, and Salt Lake City is making some big gains. Overall transit ridership is up 17%, but TRAX ridership was up over 45%. Of course this points out the fact that there was little or no increase in bus ridership which is handicapped by an antiquated and poorly run bus system.

Of course the Deseret News always has to have comments from one of the anti-transit zealots in the area. In this case it is Michael Packard who seems to be a person who gets a lot of print but still does not have the facts to back up his case.

So UTA seems to have the TRAX part of the equation doing well, now it only needs to put the bus part of the equation together. However that is going to involve getting the higher ups and the Board of Directed more involved and connected to the bus system.

Friday, January 20, 2006

reviewjournal.com -- News - Committee backs plan for light rail over buses

reviewjournal.com -- News - Committee backs plan for light rail over buses

Ok, well it is not in Utah, but this is breaking major ground. A committee has backed building light rail from Henderson to North Las Vegas via downtown despite the opposition by homeowners in Henderson who actually think that buses will be quieter than light rail trains and the Las Vegas Review-Journal itself that tends to be extremely anti-transit.

If any city needs to improve its transportation system and has a need for light rail it is Las Vegas. Anyone who has dared to drive the streets in that town know how bad traffic and the drivers are.

Lets hope that the project continues and they build a light rail line. Maybe they should look to Salt Lake City and see what a great light rail line TRAX has turned out to be despite misguided opposition in the early years.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah: "West side balks at plan for toll road
Why us? Officials say it won't be built otherwise.
By Jacob Santini
The Salt Lake Tribune

I always love the comments that many people make when the talk of toll roads is approached. They want there new roads but they do not want to pay for them.

Despite the fact that they live in areas that are growing and there is no money to build a bunch of new roads they still want someone else to foot the bill.

Of course you hear all the whining about how much in taxes they pay and why should they have to pay more.

While many will argue about the gas tax, you still have to pay to maintain the highways, pay for law enforcement, take care of local and arterial streets. That adds up to a lot of money going out just to maintain the streets then you throw in paying for new roads and the cost goes through the roof.

Of course the solution is to make the builders pay the full cost of new developments. They will quickly fight back saying that they will have to pass those cost onto their buyers. However, if they buyers want to be in that new community they should have to pay the full cost of development and not expecting people in older communities to have to pay.

The same goes for people who want to use the new highways. They should have to shoulder the cost of building the highway.

Maybe once people are having to pay the full cost of an automobile, transit not look so bad.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Proposed Restructuring of UTA Routes-Route1

Ok, I am going to go rout by route and show how I would restructure the UTA to make it a more efficient transit system.

I will go through my proposed route system using the route numbering system I proposed in an earlier post.

Route 1:

Route will start at Hogle Zoo, travel via Sunnyside, Foothill Blvd, Wasatch Drive, Medical Center Driver, and North Campus Drive to the University of Utah Hospital. Then via North Campus Drive, 100 South, Virginia Street, 11th Avenue, E Street, 9th Avenue, B Street, 3rd Avenue/1st Avenue/ State Street, 200 South, 300 West, 600 North/700 North, Starcrest Drive, 400 North and Doralma St to the Center for the Visually Impaired.

Benefits of this route: Will give direct service to Hogle Zoo full time, will increase service across the U of U campus making travel easier, will provide a faster ride across North Salt Lake than the current 18/19/20 service. Will replace route 1 and portions of routes 18, 19, and 20.

Frequency: M-F Peak: 20 Min, M-F Off-Peak: 30 Min, Sat: 30 Min, Sun: 60 Min

Buses: Route should use 35ft. buses but do to NIMBYism in the Avenues and tight turns 30ft buses will be assigned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Articulated Buses

Saw an interesting sight yesterday on 3300 South, as an articulated bus was being used on route 30 despite it being a Federal holiday. For those of you who do not know what an articulated bus is, its one of those buses that bend in the middle and are 20ft longer than a standard sized bus which is 40ft. I don't know why they decided to put one of these on the route but it was probably just a bus reassignment due to a break down or something like that.

UTA has 13 articulated buses that they first acquired in 1998. The thought then was to assign them to the busy commuter routes but over the last few years they have been replaced by the new the new MCI Commuter Cruisers.

Now they are assigned such routes as the 48 (soon to be 327) which are in desperate need of the bigger buses.

UTA needs to take another look at artics and use them on their busiest routes. Some agencies do not like them because they are somewhat slower than other buses but their capacity makes up for most of their shortcomings.

Among the routes that should be using the artics are: 30, 31, 48, 811 and 830. The 30 would not need them full time but it makes equipment utilization easier than changing buses.

If UTA's near sighted cuts do take place on the 31 and the 37 is the only route from West Valley to the TRAX station then it should also be assigned artics to help with overcrowding.

Also the 830 may have a couple of places where artics wouldn't work so that will have to be taken a look at.

There are other routes that once a rationalization of the route network take place would be ideal lines for artics including the 8, 9, 22, and 43.

This all goes toward building a better transit network along the Wasatch Front.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

U. Student entries may be future TRAX stops

deseretnews.com | U. student entries may be future TRAX stops

An excellent article on how U of U students where making designs for possible TRAX stations.

One of the points the article makes is about the few small problems with the existing TRAX stations and how the new designs will be used to solve some of them.

One of the problems discussed is the poor seating at the current TRAX stations. While nicer seating will be nice, I do not see it that necessary when a train is coming by every 15-minutes or so. I think the better seating is more important in the bus bay are where people make have to wait hours for a bus with UTA's current poor bus system that is getting worst.

Another aspect talked about was to have different station designs when they build the new lines so that people would know if they are on the wrong train. While it sounds like a good idea, how many people would notice that the stations are of a different design? Heck some people won't even read a bus headsign much less notice that design of a TRAX station.

Overall, I think it is great that the UTA is giving students real design experience and maybe, they will find someone with talent to work on other UTA projects in the future.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Night Ride

One of the changes that is proposed with the other cuts is eliminating of the night rides but replacing them with the regular routes.

What the UTA did not say is if the lines will still have the same amount of service but it should be comparable.

I applaud the UTA in getting away from the Night Ride service that makes service more complicated than it needs to be. Not only do you have to know your regular route but if you travel after 7pm you have to know your night ride route as well. This is especially confusing for the night ride routes such as the 107 that have little to do with the existing 7 route.

Another issue with the night rides is how some schedules work out. For example, when I lived in Sandy, I would ride the 24/124. The last 24 bus would head southbound at past Fort Union Blvd at 6:45pm then the first 124 did not come by until 8:30PM.

In addition as work schedules becoming more varied and more people working jobs where they are not off by 5:00pm it is necessary to have latter service. In today's world regular bus service should continue to at least 8 and better yet 9pm.

To give you a perfect example of the problem, if I work to 6pm the last regular inbound 11 bus which I would take goes by at 5:45PM. That means I would have to wait until 7:30PM for the 133 night ride then walk almost a mile home down a busy street with no sidewalks, no street lighting and drivers traveling over the speed limit. No thanks I will just drive.

Once again it comes down to the fact that UTA needs to make the service convenient in order to entice the choice customers. It is all part of customer service and marketing.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Proposed Changes to the 30 and 31

Of all the changes that UTA has proposed, the worst of the lot is the cutting of service on Routes 30 and 31.

Presently both of them travel from the Valley Fair Mall to the Fred Meyer store at 3300 South and 3300 East. Both routes are extremely busy.

The plan presented by the UTA would basically make these almost shuttle routes (of course UTA calls everything a shuttle but that's another story). The 30 would travel from 2100 South TRAX station to Parley and Foothill and layover probably where the 5 now lays over. The 31 route will start at the Millcreak (3300 South) TRAX station and travel to the current terminal at the Fred Meyer store.

Here is a list of problems with this proposal:

1. Will make travel on the east side harder. While the 14 runs along the short stretch, it is diffacylt to make transfers from the 14 to the other routes especially the proposed 30.

2. Ignores overcrowding on buses from Valley Fair Mall to the TRAX station. OK they are going to make the 37 every 20 minutes, however the 31 and the 37 both are already over crowded along that stretch. It would make more sense to run both routes on an alternating basis between these 2 points providing every 10 minute service to relieve over crowding.

3. This does not decrease the number of transfers that people have to make it will increase them. It is basically cutting the West Valley area off from the eastside on the two of the busiest bus corridors UTA has.

4. There is great potential at the 2100 South TRAX station and lots of changes in the area. UTA should be focusing on improving service to this market not killing it all off. The only direction of travel will be east or on TRAX.

Here is a couple of alternatives that could be implemented.

1. Since the 37 already serves most of the 3500/3000 South Corridor, just continue it on all the way to Fred Meyer and continue to have the 30 interconnect there.

Good: One ride throughout the corridor
Bad: Long Route, timekeeping could be an issue.

2. Create a whole new route. Run the 30 and 31 as proposed by run them as one line then when the route reaches 2100 South continue it north along 300 West, serve the transportation center then loop through downtown. OK, I know UTA ran a shuttle down 300 west after TRAX started and it was a failure, but look at much 300 West is now booming with Super Wal-Mart and others going in along the corridor. While this is not a perfect solution, at least it makes up for the rest of the cuts.

Go to the public meetings and let your voices be heard!!!!

My Take on Each of UTA's Proposed Changes

Routes Eliminated:

Route 17-Route 16 will be changed to basically follow the original loop route of the 16/17 except with service to the 1300 South TRAX station. This should have been done in the first place as the restructured routes made little since and apparently ridership pointed that way.

Route 25-Canceling a route that services Discover Card, ACS, Harmon's Music, and a low income area of Sandy? While some trips on this route do have low ridership, I have been on many trips with good loads. One idea would be to put the 90 back on its pre-TRAX days route that serviced the Discover Card area but then again, the 90 is being mutilated too and will be useless for those who work odd shifts.

Route 35-This route was very outdated for the amount of development taking place in the area. This is probably the one part of the proposal that makes since. Only a few blocks in Kearns will loose service and there is bus service just a couple of blocks away.

Routes 46/345-The Draper Service has always been a failure. Of course it doesn't help that the service is basically useless for anyone doing anything besides heading to TRAX in the morning. More service was needed to make useful service.

Route 47-I will have to say that the fast bus proposal makes since here instead of making people travel all the way to TRAX then take the TRAX train. Running the 43 from 123rd over to State and up to TRAX would have made since, although a long route but then again their cutting the 43 too.

Route 66-Route 66 services a fast growing area but its service is too limited to be of much good. Some of the replacement service will give parts of the 66 area better service but out in far West Valley and Magna they are getting the shaft.

Route 81-One of the best changes they made to the 81 was running to the 3900 South TRAX station, the only problem was the 16/17 service which made intergration make no sense. This route had opportunity but it and the 16/17 where poorly designed by the UTA Planners.

Changes to Routes:

Route 16: Mentioned it with route 17 above, this is how the route should have been designed in the first place. A connection to Redwood Road at California would also improve usefulness of service.

I will cover routes 30/31 in a seperate post by tomorrow.

Route 34: This is one of the proposals that actually makes since. It gives Jordan Landing better bus service and eliminates all the duplication in the west. However, with the western area growing at the rate it is a transit center at 5600 south and 5600 West would have made since.

Route 36: This is another proposal that actually makes some since. The route will replace part of the 66 that serves the LakeParke area plus the industrial area to the north of 201, and gives the area full time service. Now make it every 30-minutes and it will be useful.

Route 41: It will replace route 35's Decker Lake service and also runs up 900 West from 2100 South which captures the 81's busiest section. Question will it be coordinated with the 16? Also instead of running to 12300 South it will cut across 7800 South to the Midvale Center TRAX station giving 7800 South much needed service. However with the Fast bus only providing limited service on 2700 West, some service should have continued all the way to Riverton.

Route 42: OK last change they start serving SLCC, this change SLCC goes bye bye. They extend the service north along 3200 West, cover part of the 30 route then head into downtown also picking up pieces of the 16/17 fiasco. Once again will service be coordinated with the 16/17 and 41 or will we have buses on top of each other like general UTA practice? Also the bus will run directly down 3200 west and not service Dixie Valley. Once again this shows how UTA has no concept of servicing destinations. Why not run the bus through Jordan Landing?

Route 43: The poor ridership section south of 10600 South is being eliminated and rerouted to service 10600, the mall and TRAX. This means the Riverton/Bluffdale area will have only peak hour service. Does this mean they are cutting Paratransit down to peak hours only?

Route 56: Will be extended to service 3900 South TRAX station.

Route 88: Goodbye Cooperton. Will the rest of the 88 be next?

Fast Bus Proposals:

313: This goes back to the fact that they should have never truncated the 33 at the TRAX station. The route is too far east. Heck, by the time people board TRAX they could have been in downtown if it went through. I'm sure that the 33 will be next on the chopping block since there is fast bus so it will make no since to run the 33 peak hours only.

327 (old route 48): The bus is reroute to service the booming Daybreak Area which makes since. I just hope they are planning additional bus service as they buses are already running standing room only.

346: See if this service does any better than running service to TRAX. Bus will suffer from congestion along 90th South and I-15 which will give it issues.

The biggest problem I have with the Fast Bus program is that once again its peak hour service only which is a waste of capital investment.

Routes 82, 90, and 94 reduced to peak service only. Reduces the usability of service, reduces ridership on other routes, waste of capital equipment. There will be no cross valley bus service off peak south of 4500 South further reducing the ridership potential.

Once again while a few of this changes makes since, a vast majority are short sighted, and shows that UTA has no concept of a systematic systems approach. How will cutting one route effect other routes?

If UTA wants to cut off peak service how about the ski buses. I see ski bus routes all the time and during off peak hours they are empty. Why should every day riders loose their service when this service which is a waste of capital assets run?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Deseret News Article

deseretnews.com | Transportation called key to growth of Provo, Orem

Deseret News Article talking to the mayors of Provo and Orem about transportation. Unfortunately the article mentions nothing about transit mainly talking about the Provo Airport and one brief mention of traffic on Interstate 15.

If this is the best our politicians can come up with when talking about transportation problems and future development in the region, it is not surprising the issues we already face and the more we are going to face in the future.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Suprise, Suprise: More UTA Bus Service Cuts

Press Releases

As expected UTA has released their proposed bus service cuts for April.

First of all I would actually like to commend the UTA. This time you can go to their website and not only see the press release about the proposed service cuts but you can also see the changes that they are proposing in other routes. UTA got it right this time.

Some of the propose changes make since. The west valley are bus service has not made since and some of the proposed changes will make service better for the area. However, whenever you see the goal is reducing duplication of service, that usually means that bus service will be reduced.

Duplication of service has become a bad word in the transit world and it has become bad to have more than one route service a street. However, it does not take into account customer travel patterns.

A perfect example of decreasing service while "eliminating" duplication of service is the proposal to cut the 31 route. Instead of making travel easier it will actually make travel along 3500/3300 south more complicated. If they wanted to eliminate duplicate service they should have extended the 37 all the way to Parley/Foothill, although that would have created a long line with on time issues. Instead of a one seat ride from say the Valley Fair Mall to the Brickyard Plaza it will be a two seat ride, or if your traveling to 2100 south it will be a 2 or 3 seat ride.

Also it was only a couple of years ago that they revised the 16/17 routes and now they are basically returning service to the way it was. So why doesn't UTA admit its planners where wrong and they should never have changed the routes in the first place?

Also the proposed Sandy and Draper "Fast Buses" clearly signal the pending end of the route 33 which travels along 1300 East. This was another dumb move by UTA planners when TRAX first started. Rerouting the bus to the Fashion Place West TRAX station made trip times way to long and poor coordination with other bus services doesn't help. The 33 should once again continue toward downtown or combined with the 11 with every other 11 continuing to Sandy.

Also UTA doesn't mention hours of operation on these new "fast buses" but you most likely will only have buses during rush hour which means they will be of little use for many of UTA's customers.

Once again many of the proposed changes show that UTA is too disconnected from its customers to truly see what kind of transit system is needed. Once again the western and southern Salt Lake Valley will have bus service gutted. Maybe its time for a redesign of UTA management.